A River’s Role in History Never Ends
My ONS 2013 trip started unexpectedly on a sad note. I was inbound to SFO, sitting on a Virgin America flight working on my computer when I first saw the tweets that there were explosions in Boston near the Marathon. I scanned through the TV channels, but there was absolutely no coverage of any news out of Boston for at least ~20 minutes. I was able to link to the marathon finishing line cam and when the picture came through it was full of emergency response people, no crowds, no runners and a lot of chaos.
On a personal note, I would thank all those who reached out to ask if my family was safe. The marathon route is close to my house, but we do not live near the location of the attack, but I was at the exact location of the attack only two days before with my daughter explaining to her that Patriot’s Day was not the day the Boston Marathon is run — it had a larger meaning. I visited Oklahoma City a few weeks after the Murrah Federal Building bombing and I recall standing in front of the building in awe of the destruction. I was in NYC a few weeks after 9/11 and I was in London in 2005.
I returned from ONS on Thursday morning. The President was in town. A little after 5pm the FBI held the press conference and the crowd sourcing search was on for the suspects. I went to bed by 10pm as sleep on a redeye is never great and I was tired from the trip. I woke and was in the shower when my wife came in visibly disturbed. My daughter’s school was cancelled and the neighborhood was in lockdown. We do not live in Watertown, we live on the other side of the Charles River only 1.5 miles from the site of shootout and search area. Friday was a day full of sirens, silence, helicopters and general uneasiness. The command center in Watertown is where we go to Target and Home Depot. My daughter learned to swim in the BSC Club at the Arsenal. I ride my bike through that area. The Shell station the suspects stopped at that night, is to and from my way to the Plexxi Cambridge office.
We live on the other side of the river that divides Newton and Watertown and the events of yesterday. The same river that the Regulars had to cross twice, once by boat and once by foot, on Patriot’s day in 1775. If you take the time to read David Hackett Fischer’s book, Paul Revere’s Ride, you know that the Charles River lay between danger and safely for the Regulars on the return march to Boston. Two hundred and thirty-eight years later the Charles River remained a great divide between safety and danger. In death, Stonewall Jackson muttered, “Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.”